Life After Spinal Fusion
At 26 I was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease. I tried physical therapy, steroid shots, and medicine. I went to a neurosurgeon and he prescribed nightly steroids, anti inflammatory medicine, and pain medicine. Nothing worked for my pain. I dealt with it until 2011 when I asked my doctor what our next option was. He didn't want to do anything since I was only 29. I was taking between 3-4 Vicodin a day and he wanted to just keep treating me with pills. I switched doctors and went to a orthopedic surgeon instead. He had me go to an disco-gram which is not as fun as it sounds. Basically you lie on a table, they insert needles into your discs, then bring you out of your stupor long enough to put pressure on your disc and you rate your pain. They want to know how it hurts and if the pain gets better or worse while the procedure is going. Recovery sucks, very sore for 5-7 days, but I remember the experience somewhat, but not the pain during the procedure so thats good. I don't want to vividly remember being tortured on a table. The test proved that 2 of my discs were bad and I needed surgery. I had a two level spinal fusion surgery on 12/3/12. They went in through my front and back to remove my discs at L4/L5 and L5/S1 and they placed cages where my discs were and used titanium screws to keep them in place. They did not take bone from my hip or foot. I was in the hospital for 4 days. I don't know if this is the norm. I developed a heart arrhythmia during my surgery and they monitored it and used medicine to stabilize it. I think that's why I might have stayed longer. I was up walking the day after my surgery. The more you walk the better you will be. I got home and finally took a shower. I had to have help getting in and drying off, but I was able to do the rest my self. I didn't need help getting on or off the toilet which we were all happy about. I tried to lay in my bed, but I couldn't lay flat so I slept in a recliner chair for about a month and a half. The first night I cried because I felt so pathetic. The surgery is a serious kick to your self esteem because you think you made a big mistake and you listen to all the horror stories and you think you are becoming another one. I made matters worse because I used a pillow to prop up my legs and I would sleep that way. I had the pillow tucked underneath my knees and I developed Peripheral neuropathy. This meant it hurt to stand still or move around. It's hard to walk and recover when all you want to do is sit with your leg propped up. Watch out for that! It took about 3 months for my leg to fully heal. I was miserable with my back until 2 weeks after my surgery. At the 2 week mark my recover time went by much faster. I had a good attitude and my pain was tolerable. I am now 6 months post surgery and I have been pain pill free for 2 months. I just had my 6 month appointment (doing excellent! doc's words) and then only 1 more at the year mark. I am so happy I had the surgery and if you can get past the first 2 weeks I'm sure you will be too. I know that not all injuries are the same, but this was my experience. My surgeon was Marcus Newton based out of the DFW area. He's wonderful!!!! Very attentive and really cares about fixing the problem.